Family may sue over shot Briton

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The Independent Online
Friends of a young Briton shot dead by Florida police have spoken of their disbelief at claims that he lunged at officers with a machete. His family is consider taking legal action.

Darren Brown, 21, of Southwell, Nottinghamshire, died on Friday evening at a bar in the Coconut Grove area of Miami. He was shot by armed officers called after reports that an armed man was trying to break in. Police claim he threatened them before turning on terrified motorists, causing several to abandon their cars and flee.

Two officers opened fire after Mr Brown allegedly lunged at an officer with a knife.

But friends who had accompanied Mr Brown to Florida deny he was capable of violence. "It just seems insane he has been killed. He has never been violent, and I can't believe what they are saying," Andy Scothern said. He described his friend as "a party animal" but insisted he was incapable of hurting anyone, adding: "The police out there are paranoid. There are so many violent people that they have got to protect themselves."

Mr Brown's employer in Britain, Jamie Pitman, 45, said: "I was absolutely shocked when I heard about his death."

The dead man's family was today arranging to fly his body home. But, according to a friend who did not wish to be named, the family has received a call from a US lawyer who believes there are grounds for establishing in court that the shooting was an unjustifiable killing.

According to Angel Calzadilla, a Miami Police spokesman, witnesses said Mr Brown was "under the influence of narcotics or alcohol". Police were awaiting the results of a Dade County medical report.

Ms Calzadilla said Mr Brown entered the US in January last year on a 90-day tourist visa and so was in the country illegally.